On the eve of the last game of the season, there was quite a bit of news coming from Cal.
First and foremost, coach Jeff Tedford announced that wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, as well as free safety Thomas DeCoud, will not start today’s Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force because they violated team rules. Tedford didn’t elaborate but said it wasn’t a major violation. He said the three players still will play but didn’t know how long they would stay on the bench at the beginning of the game.
It’s got to be a blow to DeCoud and Jordan, who are seniors playing in their final games. It also could be another sign that Jackson is indeed leaving for the NFL after the season.
Tedford also said that backup quarterback Kevin Riley will see some limited playing time today. Tedford said Riley will probably play a series or two, because he wants to get him some experience in a bowl game. This news follows Saturday’s news that Tedford is going to open up all spots in spring practice, including quarterback. Tedford said Riley definitely will play no matter what is going on in the game.
The Armed Forces Bowl held its day-before press conference today. It got off to a light-hearted start when linebacker Greg Van Hoesen toppled over when he tried to sit down at the podium. Van Hoesen raised his arm above the podium and said “I’m all right.” After he picked himself back up, he looked to the back of the room where the television cameras were and said, “Did you get that?” “Could you do it again?” a camera operator joked back.
One thing that makes me chuckle is that this is the Armed Forces Bowl, and Cal’s opponent is none other than one of the armed forces. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Tedford spoke at the press conference of the meaning of playing in this game.
“We’re going to make sure we play this game in honor of the people who fight for our country and keep us safe on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ve made that a big priority to know that not only is this a football game, but it’s much more than that.”
Van Hoesen said his cousin, John Cortez, is in the army and currently serving in Iraq. “With everything going on around the world these days, it’s hard not to take the Armed Forces Bowl seriously.”
Van Hoesen has been a little bit of a rock star around here. He unveiled his art exhibit in the lobby of the team hotel, a collection of 13 portraits that made up his senior project. Van Hoesen, a fine arts major, hopes to sell them after the game to make money for his future. Van Hoesen can’t start selling them while he’s still a collegiate athlete.
A lot of Cal fans who are here stopped in their tracks to look at the portraits Sunday, and many of Van Hoesen’s teammates did the same after they returned from walk-through. Jordan took a bunch of pictures of the one of him.
Van Hoesen did portraits of Jordan, Justin Forsett, Justin Moye, Andrew Larson, Lavelle Hawkins, Nate Longshore, Anthony Felder, DeCoud, Mika Kane, Zack Follett, Jackson, Syd’Quan Thompson, Craig Stevens and Tedford. The one of Follett and and Thompson are especially striking. Follett has his tiger-striped haircut while Thompson is shaking his hair. As it should be, Tedford is holding his handy play card in his hand.
Forsett spent the morning speaking to about 5,000 children at The Potter’s House, a ministry in Dallas where his father, Rodney, is on staff. Forsett is from nearby Arlington.
“I just talked about my faith and how I’ve come along at Cal and grown as a person,” Forsett said. “That I came from a small school and grew as a person, spiritually and personally.”
That’s it for now. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be at the stadium during pregame. I’ll check in then.